I'm looking for a single word which means "small and fast" - if not literally then metaphorically. I want to use it to describe a piece of software.

As an example, Midori is "a lightweight, fast [...] web browser". I would like to say something like:

Compared to Internet Explorer, Midori is [a] ...

  • 1
    Nimble comes to mind, although is doesn't mean "small".
    – Mick
    Nov 4, 2016 at 11:11
  • Midori is an exocet?
    – Ste
    Nov 4, 2016 at 11:12
  • 1
    I propose agile and second nimble.
    – jera
    Nov 4, 2016 at 11:30
  • Midori is scrappy! (I'm a Midori user/love... except when it crashes) Nov 4, 2016 at 11:42
  • Compared to Midori, Internet Explorer is lumbering (heavy and slow). Antonyms are agile and nimble (as mentioned) and light-footed, though I doubt you could describe a browser as light-footed!
    – JonLarby
    Nov 4, 2016 at 11:43

3 Answers 3


It isn't commonly defined as meaning small, but zippy collocates with little to such an extent that I think it at least implies smallness.

A Google Ingram search of zippy followed by a wildcard shows just how regularly the two words are paired:

Google Ingram of zippy plus wildcard

A common example appears in the word's definition from MacMillan Dictionaries:

able to move very quickly
a zippy little car

Several other online Dictionaries have a zippy car in one of their example sentences. Tellingly, an image search of zippy car shows almost exclusively small cars:

Google image search for zippy car

I also think that the word's association with vehicles that zip in and out of traffic also lends the word a connotation of maneuverability.

So if I saw the sentence

Compared to Microsoft Explorer, Midori is zippy.

I would take it to mean that Midori was faster and more responsive, probably due to being less of a behemoth than IE.

Just noticed that @Chris H has suggested nippy while I was composing this, which sounds like it may be a similar term in the UK (I am in the US).


Oh, you could use 'ferret':

Compared to [the lumbering, clumsy] Internet Explorer, Midori is a ferret of a browser.

Ferrets being small, fast animals that punch considerably above their weight. Naturally, another figurative sense of 'ferret' is helpful in this context:

To uncover and bring to light by searching.

[ferret. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved November 5 2016 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ferret.]

Not knowing the audience, and sticking to the animal kingdom, I'm avoiding anything the least bit literary, such as

Compared to [the elephantine] Internet Explorer, Midori is a serpentine browser.

'Elephantine' means 'like an elephant', and 'serpentine' means 'like a serpent'.

Similarly, I'm avoiding the touch of cliche involved with bringing the realm of natural phenomena to bear:

Compared to [the glacial] Internet Explorer, Midori is a lightning strike browser.


This may be rare outside the UK. A small car, good at accelerating into rush-hour gaps, and which can corner quite quickly, is often described as nippy. It is used for other things as well. A high sustained speed (on the open road) isn't implied. It has similarities with responsive, but of course that has a different meaning in software.

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